5 January 2015: Newsletter #01/15

ERC season 2015 is go!

The 2015 FIA European Rally Championship is go with the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy marking round one of the 10-event season from today.

Based in Freistadt in Upper Austria, the asphalt showcase will be a true winter contest following heavy snowfall and plunging ambient temperatures.

LOTOS Rally Team’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz underlined his title credentials by topping the Qualifying Stage on Sunday morning although the Pole chose to start 14th on the road when he made his choice at an atmospheric start selection ceremony later in the day.

ERC2 title chaser and fellow Pole Łukasz Kabaciński will run at the head of the 66-car international field on Monday’s opening leg followed by ERC Junior champion Stéphane Lefebvre and swift Swiss Jonathan Hirschi. Simone Tempestini is the highest-placed ERC3 starter.

Crews will tackle 10 stages over a competitive distance of 138.40 kilometres on Monday. A prize fund of 20,000 is up for grabs for the leading seven privately registered ERC drivers at the finish on Tuesday evening.

Five bake for victory in the ERC

Five FIA European Rally Championship drivers enjoyed a baking masterclass prior to the start of the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy – courtesy of local patisserie chef and event regular Ernst Haneder.

Budding bakers Jonathan Hirschi, Łukasz Kabaciński, Hermann Neubauer, Jaromír Tarabus and Simone Tempestini swapped overalls for aprons as they visited Bäckerei Haneder in the village of St Oswald – eight kilometres from the rally’s host town of Freistadt.

They soon discovered baking isn’t a piece of cake, as they were put to work in the basement, making traditional Austrian schwarzbrot (black bread) and inventing unusual shapes of pretzel.

ERC aces support FIA Action for Road Safety

Several stars from the FIA European Rally Championship got behind the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign when they took part in a photocall ahead of Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy.

The FIA’s Action for Road Safety is a global campaign, focusing the federation’s resources on helping its member organisations around the globe to educate and advocate for safer roads, vehicles and behaviours.

It aims to lower the alarming figures associated with global road accidents and to spread the safer motoring message. Central to the campaign are the 10 Golden Rules for Safer Motoring. A set of simple tips intended to help motorists improve their driving behaviour. These rules hope to assist motorists in reaching a golden standard of motoring and to remind them of their responsibilities to themselves, their passengers and all other road users.

New preview show signals expanded TV coverage for ERC

The new-for-2015 programme previewing every round of the FIA European Rally Championship aired on Eurosport last night.

Lasting 13 minutes, the show looked ahead to the season-opening Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy, with insights from ERC Sporting Manager and former prolific rally driver Jean-Pierre Nicolas and ERC title contender Craig Breen.

In addition there will be 26-minute review programmes on tonight and on Tuesday with the popular Inside ERC show airing on Wednesday. Timings vary per region so click on the Watch it on TV section of Fiaerc.com for more details.

Keep up to date with all the action live on ERC Rally Radio

ERC Rally Radio, which is available at Fiaerc.com or through the ERC app, will be covering all stages of the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy live. On-air from 07h30 on Monday and Tuesday mornings, reporters Julian Porter and Chris Rawes will be on duty at the stop line of all stages and will also provide additional coverage from the service park in Freistadt.

Lukyanuk keeping ERC expectations in check

Alexey Lukyanuk says there will be no heroics from him on round one of the 2015 FIA European Rally Championship in Austria.

Making his second start in a Ford Fiesta R5 and competing on the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy for the first time, Lukyanuk insists building his experience will be key.

“It’s so complicated this rally so to finish is the most important,” said Lukyanuk, a two-time winner of the Colin McRae ERC Flat Out Trophy. “This is also my second rally with my new co-driver so we still have to get the balance right between us. I am not sure of our plans after this rally but I am starting here and I would like to continue on Rally Liepāja but nothing is certain.”

The highly-rated Lukyanuk, who is Russian by birth, and his Ukrainian co-driver Yevgen Chervonenko, have both adopted Belarus nationality for their ERC campaign as part of their drive for a peaceful outcome to the conflict in Ukraine.

Q&A: Hermann Neubauer

The rising Austrian star is contesting his home round of the FIA European Rally Championship in a Ford Fiesta S2000. This is what he had to say ahead of the Internationale Jännerrallye powered by GaGa Energy.

Austrian driver, Austrian rally – how much of an advantage does that give you?

“I think it’s not such a big advantage. Okay, we know some places where every year it is icy, but I have never been here in such snowy conditions, so the advantage is very small.”

So an even harder challenge with all that snow about, right?

“I was really a little bit surprised because there was high temperatures, everything was melting but the forecast said there would be a lot of snow and there was. It’s nice for the drivers and the spectators when there’s a bit of snow. But it’s getting harder, especially on the downhill parts because if you make one small mistake the rally is over for you.”

What are the chances of you making more appearances in the ERC this year?

“Normally I am planning to do more, but I’m not deciding until after this rally. A good result here will help us do another round, or more rounds, of the ERC, but it’s not in my hands.”

Does that mean you have to win this rally?

“I don’t have to win this rally but a good result would be in the top five and this would be very nice for us. We are in good shape but this rally is one of the most difficult of the season and a lot can happen here.”

And finally a word about your sponsor?

“G.A.S is a marketing company in Austria and they are helping me a lot. With them I could not start this rally.”